A time management simulation board game.
Ideation, Prototyping, Playtest, Documentation
In the board game - CollegeDays (originally named 2 Days in IMGD), the players will feel struggled but still motivated to live a healthier lifestyle as they try to gain the most points possible through striking a better balance of their body fitness, mental health and coursework.
4 players at most
To meet the requirement of fewer than 30 minutes of gameplay, I set the rule of playing for 2 rounds, but the gameplay experience can be maximized if playing for more rounds (eg. 7).
Daily Routine Board
Time Tokens (Front & Back)
Coursework Cards (Front & Back)
Ingredients, Entertainment, Sleep, Failed coursework, Spoiled food, and Book tokens (Front)
Ingredients, Entertainment, Sleep, Failed coursework, Spoiled food, and Book tokens (Back)
Token covers & Dice
Iterative Design Process
Ideation and self playtests to make up the rules:
Self playtest 1.0
Self playtest 1.1
1st Round of Playtest
Players liked the game having a streamlined flow and all the mechanics come together to make a unified and immersive experience.
Rulebook was unambiguous and comprehensive.
Players were impressed by the quality of my physical materials.
Since the rules were long and the game system was complicated, the game failed to be resolved in 30 minutes. Players took too much time differentiating different types of tokens while reading the "Contents" section on rulebook, before the actual setup.
The dice colors caused a little confusion. It was unintuitive that rolling a "red" means both red and orange books on the red-orange shelf are on sale.
Version Update 2.0
I removed the token graphics of the “Contents” section from the rulebook but integrated those graphics into the “Game Preparation” and “Game Rules” sections to help explain the rules.
I added cover graphics for each of the token types to help players differentiate and set up the game.
I changed the colors of the dice to match the placeholder book token icons of the bookstore module on the daily routine board. That means, there are two colors on one side of the dice now, and rolling a “red-orange” means both red and orange books on the red-orange shelf are on sale.
I simplified the coursework system of the game. I removed the coursework module from the daily routine board, and instead, players are assigned 3 coursework cards randomly at the beginning of the game but have the option to drop at most 2 coursework at the end of the first round of the game. (The players don't need to spend extra rounds to go to the coursework module to register for classes, which also makes more sense, we have to take some courses as college students!)
2nd Round of Playtest
The game went very well.
Players appreciated the clarity of the rulebook and the delicacy of the physical materials.
Players were able to finish the game in 30 minutes.
The game received highly favorable reviews in terms of clarity, integration, fun, interaction, and balance.
Players were a little confused about whether water needed to be stored in the refrigerator first. Although they got the rule correctly by referring back to the rulebook, water needs to be cooked before consumption flies in the face of common sense.
Players didn’t match the colors and texts of the book tokens correctly at first. One of the players thought buying the books with the same colors as the books on the coursework cards could simply complete the coursework.
Since there’s little penalty to consuming excessive fat, one of the players chose to dine more in McDonalds after she drew 5 oil tokens unluckily in one turn. That deviated from our design goal to motivate players to live a healthier lifestyle.
The Next Step
I will raise the penalty for getting extra fat in the body. Currently, players are too motivated to go to McDonalds for dining because its convenience outweighs the risk of excess fat, especially when players already reach the limit of 5 fat tokens. We want to make players lose more points when they get more than 3 fat tokens, and change the rule of “excessive tokens don’t count” to “excessive tokens deduct 2 points each from wellness scores.”
I will make changes to the tokens. I want a clearer difference between different types of book tokens to help players differentiate them easily. Also, I want to use grains instead of water for the ingredients to eliminate confusion around if water needs to be cooked. Furthermore, it’s hard for players to manipulate small pieces of tokens. I tried to increase the size of the tokens but then noticed that the player wellness scoreboards would end up taking up too much space on the table to fit the tokens. One player suggested that I can make a video game version so that players won’t need to manipulate tokens. But it is still worth considering how to optimize the balance of the token size and the wellness scoreboard size for this board game.
One feedback from both rounds of playtesting was that players feel a cooperative game fits better under my game theme rather than a competitive one. I didn’t resolve this issue after the first round of playtests because that would involve dramatic rule changes. But I do want to add a cooperative edition to our game in the future.